BONN (May. 24)
Chancellor Willy Brandt told newsmen today that he would be going to Israel “not to negotiate new agreements but to get first-hand knowledge of the Middle East situation and German-Israeli relations from Israel’s point of view.”
He said he attached considerable importance to the visit, the first by a West German Chancellor in office. It would clearly show “What both peoples have in common.” Both sides wanted to overcome the past without running away from it. Brandt said. He added that a lot of work still has to be done on the “new basis of understanding.” He saw one line of development in youth exchanges and economic, cultural and scientific exchange. Government circles have described German-Israeli relations as “normal but with a special character.”
Commenting on West Germany’s present diplomatic offensive in the Middle East, Brandt said that “As long as a state of non-peace exists in the Mediterranean and the Middle East, peace in Europe cannot be secured.” Detente would remain limited to Europe, and this was not the objective set for European detente in international politics, he said.
Brandt stressed that he did not want to discuss possible elements of a peace settlement before he had spoken with Premier Golda Meir. Government circles here in general are declining to reveal the content of Brandt’s recent talks with President Nixon and Soviet Communist Party Secretary Leonid I Brezhnev on the Middle East. Government circles noted that their impression from recent talks was that neither the U.S. nor the USSR wanted new hostilities.